Initial experience with the development and numerical and in vitro studies of a novel low-pressure artificial right ventricle for pediatric Fontan patients.
The Fontan operation, an efficient palliative surgery, is performed for patients with single-ventricle pathologies. The total cavopulmonary connection is a preferred Fontan procedure in which the superior and inferior vena cava are connected to the left and right pulmonary artery. The overall goal of this work is to develop an artificial right ventricle that can be introduced into the inferior vena cava, which would act to reverse the deleterious hemodynamics in post-Fontan patients. We present the initial design and computational analysis of a micro-axial pump, designed with the particular hemodynamics of Fontan physiology in mind. Preliminary in vitro data on a prototype pump are also presented. Computational studies showed that the new design can deliver a variety of advantageous operating conditions, including decreased venous pressure through proximal suction, increased pressure rise across the pump, increased pulmonary flows, and minimal changes in superior vena cava pressures. In vitro studies on a scaled prototype showed trends similar to those seen computationally. We conclude that a micro-axial flow pump can be designed to operate efficiently within the low-pressure, low-flow environment of cavopulmonary flows. The results provide encouragement to pursue this design to for in vitro studies and animal studies.